Softening the Hard Edges
“Practice leads you in the right direction, while non-attachment allows you to continue the inner journey without getting sidetracked into the pains and pleasures along the way” – Swami J
In my practice, I am working to soften – to let go of the push of trying so hard. I began this in my asana practice and have found, like most things that start on the mat, to be leaking into different aspects of my life. Maybe you, too, have noticed that what you practice on the mat begins to infiltrate into different aspects of your life. To yield into the poses is to let go of the need to have to do them correctly, or have to be perfect. To yield and soften into the poses, is to trust that I am alright as I am. For each of us, to surrender to the moment and to place trust in the universe can be frightening and difficult.
The word yoga has several different interpretations: to unite, to yoke, to tie the strands of the mind together. In the second sutra, yoga is defined as “the ability to direct the mind exclusively toward an object and sustain that duration without any distraction” (Heart of Yoga, 149). The object is our intention, our sankalpa, our desire or goal. The distractions are life: our sorrows, our joys, whether someone likes us, whether we get positive or negative feedback from a friend, co-worker, boss, or stanger. The distractions are life experiences that we often, mistakenly, wrap our feelings of self-worth around. We are happy when someone likes us and want to hide from the world when someone doesn’t.
Yoga is a way to be completely engaged in the action of your present moment knowing that life experiences are only experiences and not a reflection of your self-value. Yoga teaches us to move steadily in the direction we want to go but without the attachment to our desire or expected outcome. This is the balance between steady effort, abhyasa, and letting go, vairagya.
I am a strong believer in persistent, patience, and consistency. To reach our dreams and goals is not an all or nothing experience but a steady climb that we achieve over time. As we pay attention to our actions, as with move with steady effort, abhyasa, we see our path, where we are going and how to get to our desired end. When we see where we are going, when we take the time to notice the present moment no longer are we caught up with the pains, the joys, the sorrows of each of our experience. We can see embrace our experience as the changing opportunity for growth without attaching our worth to the outcome. This allows us to move without gripping, with detachment, with vairagya – this allows us to soften.